By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
You can say that again, Mrs. Bridges.
And on the subject of Todd, she offers that "I am very proud of my son. I'm not happy that he had a drug problem, but I'm proud of how he pulled himself up with God's help."
Pollack says some reassuring words to Betty and hangs up the phone, smiling sincerely. "Isn't she great?" he asks, and you start to think that the whole thing is nuts, that maybe these guys have gotten in a little too deeply. "We put a flag on this planet first," says Szufnarowski, making perhaps his twentieth subconscious TV reference of the day (it's still early). "And if anybody else gets a TV star to sing on their CD, it's gonna be a rip-off."
Asked which is their favorite track on the CD, the guys agree that Brutal Juice's "Paid Programming"--the last thing Brutal Juice recorded before splitting up last year--takes the prize. "We met Brutal Juice when they were opening for Gwar and the Meatmen," says Pollack. "They were one of our favorite bands, and one of only two who had a major-label record deal featured on the album."
The two partners agree that this is a grassroots effort. They chose punk bands like Tilt, Murphy's Law, and Jesus Christ Superfly on the basis of both their accessibility and genuine love of TV. And they've actually put a lot of thought into the concept, complete with built-in room for irony.
"This is all our lives leading up to this point," Pollack says, holding the CD as if it were the Bible in the hands of a TV preacher. "It's on this album here." It's all too much. It's time to go home and fall asleep, with visions of sit-coms dancing in the head until interrupted by Bridge's phone call.
Bridges' responses to any probing questions are rather abrupt. He says he doesn't like to talk about the past, so we ask him a little about punk (which he says he had never listened to before), then slowly work into Diff'rent Strokes territory.
"I just think it's a shame that they always pick on our show," he says. "I mean, Dana and me are the only ones who got into trouble. Gary didn't get in trouble. Conrad (Banes) didn't get in trouble. The maid didn't get in trouble."
When asked what he's been up to lately, Bridges says he just finished a movie with plunge-alike star Corey Haim called Busted. "It's a comedy about a police captain and a brothel," he says. "See, the police station is actually a brothel."
Anyway, perhaps those two young entrepreneurs say it best when Scott declares, "We love TV. And we honored it with this record. It's an homage to our youth. To a whole generation."
"To the whole world," Jake tacks on as an afterthought.
It's hard to tell how much of what they're saying is really serious, but the decision to include an artist like Corn Mo as the final track on the CD should tell you that TV is truly in their hearts.
Corn Mo (Jon Cunningham), an accordion-toting super-geek, is famed for, among other things, having been personally visited by Kevin Von Erik after writing a fan letter to the wrestler, proclaiming his love for the sport and his sorrow for the misfortunes that befell the Von Erik family. The wrestler was so moved that he actually called Corn Mo and arranged to spend a day watching WWF matches on TV at Mo's house. Corn Mo, in turn, wrote a song inspired by that day, called "Shine On Golden Warrior," dedicated to the Von Erik family.
It was that same forthright, true-blue emotionalism that compelled Corn Mo and local producer and former Brutal Juicer Sam McCall--plus two guys from new local act Q--to pack up and head to NYC to play for the album release party.
It was a classic road adventure. One of the Q guys got left at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. When the group got to New York, a stunned Szufnarowski and Pollack had to tell them that the release party was tentative. Well, it was tentative, now it was cancelled.
"We were so busy attending to other matters--like getting our record into the stores--that we forgot to get back with them," Pollack says, still sounding a bit crestfallen. "We were like, 'aw, man, we fucked up,' so to compensate we got Corn Mo a gig at Coney Island High, which is one of the hippest clubs in the East Village."
"It was really cool," Corn Mo says enthusiastically. "The place loved my act. I found this really cool toy store on Bleecker Street, and played this open mike in Williamsburg (the Bronx) which went over well, and I met this Armenian clown named Voki and hung out and walked the streets with him. It was a good trip."
One of the most enduring Corn Mo memories for Szufnarowski and Pollack was attending a post-Coney Island High party with the accordionist. The overall theme was gothic: black clothes, black lipstick and nail polish, lots of eye shadow, and lots of generally self-indulgent weirdness. "I asked this one girl if people here had fangs, and she said yes, but I couldn't tell if she was joking or not," reports Corn Mo, who made the scene in white vinyl pants and a pink tuxedo shirt.
"I thought it was demented at first," says Szufnarowski. "But Corn Mo grew on me."
"He's great, [and] that's the ultimate way to end a shticky consumer CD," agrees Pollack. "A guy from the middle of nowhere--Denton, Texas--recording a song on his accordion in the basement. Perfect.